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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > How do I bond my antisocial male and loving female?
Last Post by MarkBun at 1/05/2009 10:30 AM (5 Replies)
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User is Offline elemenoperica
Sarasota, FL
15 posts Send Private Message
1/04/2009 1:52 PM

I have two altered adult rabbits (both over one year)--male (William) and female (Lily)--who live in separate condos in the same room. I have been working with them to bond them for a couple of months. Lily is the sweetest, most docile and passive rabbit I have ever seen, and she is very enamored with William and very submissive and polite around him. William actually "chose" Lily at a rabbit rescue; in the pen where they were introduced, he took to her right away, groomed her and layed next to her. In the bathtub (and in other small neutral territories), William is calm and accepting of Lily, even sprawling out next to her and occasionally grooming her. However, William's behavior changes dramatically when he and Lily are on less neutral territory, like in the bonding pen in their room (which they both have the opportunity to explore--separately--at other times). He thumps and growls at her, bites her, pulls out hair. Sometimes they'll be lying next to each other and he just bites her on the side, with no obvious provocation. He is very territorial and rubs his chin all over everything in their room when he is out. And about a week ago, he broke through to Lily's side of the room (both were out with the room divided in half by an unfolded pen), and attacked her aggressively. There was enough fur on the floor to build another rabbit. Luckily, Lily has no open wounds.

Is it possible that William is simply an antisocial rabbit who is not interested in having a friend? When I adopted William, he arrived with the brother who he was raised with. Although they were fully bonded for months--and altered--they eventually began fighting viciously and I had to rehome Henry. When I adopted Lily, I thought that William's "choice" of her suggested that we would have better luck with the relationship. But I am starting to become disillusioned. I feel especially bad because if Lily had her way, they would be best friends. Any suggestions?   


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One day soon William (lionhead) will realize he loves Lily!

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
1/04/2009 2:18 PM
You need to set up a living space in neutral territory where you can house the two of them together for some time. It sounds like that they're doing well in the bathroom/bathtub. When they seem acceptable with one another there, you then need to begin housing them together in neutral territory until their bond cements. Then you can bring them into 'his' space and he'll be more tolerant of her. I had to keep my two living together in an X-pen in the bathroom for two weeks before bringing them into her territory.


My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline elemenoperica
Sarasota, FL
15 posts Send Private Message
1/04/2009 2:40 PM

I do not have any additional space in my house where I can house the rabbits for lengthy periods of time. I feel lucky to have an extra room for the bunnies as it is. I have a dog who is quite aggressive and has a strong chasing instinct, so I have essentially divided my house into the general (dog-ok) living space, and the bunny's living space.



One day soon William (lionhead) will realize he loves Lily!

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
1/05/2009 7:27 AM
Well you can make a neutral space. It's a little more difficult but can be done.

First thing you need to do is create a third cage now, or just X-pen, in the bunny room that you will house the two. With that area, you need to 'deoderize' the floor space with a mixture of water and vinegar. If you are able to, find a piece of plywood and put it under the cage so that it masks your first bun's scent. Then drape the walls of the pen with a sheet or use other methods to block the view of the rest of the room from the X pen.

Next, take the two buns on a ride together in the same travel crate. Afterwards, bring them back and place the carrier inside of the new room you've created and open it up. Don't let them out of it again for 2 weeks. Some rabbits are fooled into thinking that they're in a whole new room and therefore there's no territorial issues.


My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!

User is Offline elemenoperica
Sarasota, FL
15 posts Send Private Message
1/05/2009 8:18 AM

Ok, I'll give that a shot. Do you mean I should put them both into the new neutral space after the car ride and leave them in there together? I feel like I'd have to watch them closely to prevent any further aggressive behavior. I wouldn't want a fight to break out while I'm not hovering over them. I suppose I could do it on a Saturday morning and just hang out in the bunny room all day long, keeping my eye on them... What do I do if a fight breaks out? Do I do this repeatedly (reintroducing them to the "new" neutral space)?



One day soon William (lionhead) will realize he loves Lily!

User is Offline MarkBun
Richmond, CA
2819 posts Send Private Message
1/05/2009 10:30 AM
Maybe I'm going a little bit fast with the new space. Have you been switching out their living spaces - putting William into Lily's and vice versa? They should get used to one another's smells even more than just living next to each other. If so, then the next thing you want to make sure is that they aren't fighting in neutral space - such as the bathtub. From what I read, they're fine in the bath tub although I'm not sure how long of a session they've had. If they can stand each other for 30 mins to an hour, then it's time for the next step that I mentioned. I'd probably put all of Lily's things in there though (litter box, food dish, etc.) to give her a slight advantage to it being her space.

Here's the thing though - you'll have to leave them together 24/7. This is the biggest hurdle that we as rabbit parents have to go through as we know that they fight and that things can happen quickly but it is a hurdle we need to get over and do so with very little fear. If you're afraid, your rabbits will sense it and become nervous themselves. Maryann used to attack Dono because she thought he was the threat that was scaring me.

There will be some fighting as dominance is worked out. In fact, there could be some fighting for the rest of their lives. Maryann still takes tufts of fur out of Dono about once a week (I actually caught her mounting him over the holidays). If a fight starts, the first thing to try is a spray gun. If that doesn't work, use a book or something else and push it between them. It's hard to watch but it is something that happens.

Another thing you could try is to turn both William's and Lily's cages into one big condo with a 'door' between the two. If William is living with Lily on HER turf, it might go easier.


My bonding quest with Maryann - Read about a less than easy bonding with two buns - but they did bond!
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